On January 23, 2020, almost 300 members met in Marlborough to discuss the complexity of public education and role of self-care in the process of leadership. Our dedicated and committed members listened and engaged with Keynote, Jeff Lawrence, Managing Director of Organizational Agility Advisors, and this presentation “Thinking Systemically – Acting Relationally.”
Superintendents are facing the most complex landscape in the history of public education. In addition to the divisiveness casting shade over the country, local dynamics, societal issues and social media present challenges faster and more dynamically than ever. Superintendents were able to reflect on where they were in their leadership, how they got there, and what to do next– not just to survive but to thrive without losing themselves in the process. Jeff shared a wealth of resources and helped the crowd dialogue with other colleagues.
Commissioner Jeff Riley joined us after the Keynote to discuss his plans for the Student Opportunity Act. Commissioner Riley recognized that the SOA is providing a significant infusion of new funds to some schools, with every district receiving at least some increase in Chapter 70, and that all districts are required to submit three-year evidence based plans to the Commissioner. Commissioner Riley recognized that the funds are not evenly distributed across all districts, DESE will have a “short form” plan (~2 pages) for most districts and “long form” plan for those receiving significant funds. We always appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to communicate and keep M.A.S.S. engaged in the process.
During lunch, Mary Bourque, Retired Superintendent of Schools, Chelsea Public Schools, current M.A.S.S. Director of Government Affairs, and winner of the 2019 Christos Daoulas award gave remarks. The Christos Daoulas award gives recognition of the many contributions a superintendent makes to their colleagues, our association and the education community. Mary’s speech reflected on leadership and where her leadership comes from. Mary’s passion and commitment to education resonated with the crowd. She closed out her speech with: “And now it is time to continue to serve, continue to lead. As we enter this time and place in our collective leadership story –a time when we will need to summon more patience and understanding; a time when nurturing trusting relationships with all will be ever so much more important, critical, and impactful; a time when we need to let your leadership skills continue to be strengthened by the collective strength, wisdom, and courage found in this room today and found across the MASS membership. We are here for you. We will continue to learn alongside you; we will grow in leadership with you.”
The day was a great highlight on the complexities of public education in Massachusetts. This was the highest attendance for our Mid-Winter meeting in history and we are grateful for Jeff Lawrence, the Commissioner, and our committed sponsors for taking the time to spend their day with us.